A late, late Summer Green penalty settled an enthralling Old Firm derby at Rangers’ Training Centre in the Scottish Building Society SWPL.
In a sensational finale, Jodie Bartle had the ball in the net on 92 minutes, only for the referee to call play back and award a penalty instead. American striker Green sank her spot kick past Rangers goalkeeper Jenna Fife to seal all three points for Celtic.
It was Rangers’ first defeat of the season, while Celtic leapfrogged their Glasgow rivals and Hibernian to move into second.
It may not yet be fair to call this the biggest fixture in Scottish women’s football, with champions Glasgow City currently three points clear at the top of the SWPL. But it had certainly been the most anticipated ever since both clubs went full-time.
Would it be blood, guts and thunder? Or a festival of attractive, attacking football? It turned out to be both as both served up a classic.
As the rain teemed down, both sides tried to take early control. Green’s shot was pushed wide by Rangers goalkeeper Jenna Fife, who then had to punch clear from the corner.
Then Rachel Donaldson headed into the path of Natalie Ross, but she couldn’t direct it past Fife.
Celtic were having the better chances, but that would soon change. Zoe Ness out-sprinted the Celtic back line to get onto Lizzie Arnot’s long ball, but from a tight angle goalkeeper Chloe Logan was able to block her shot.
And then, somehow, Celtic kept Rangers out. Ness couldn’t get the ball from out under her feet but managed to knock it to Claire Gemmell who looked set to finish, but Caitlin Hayes blocked the first shot. Then, while still on the ground, she remarkably was able to stretch and head away the rebound.
It had been a riveting first half, but the second 45 minutes was to be even better as both sides asked huge questions of the other.
Rangers midfielder Chelsea Cornet volleyed a shot from outside the box that was brilliantly tipped over by Logan.
Then Celtic forward Sarah Ewens slipped onto Robertson’s cross inside the area, but curled her shot wide of the target.
Back it went to the other end. Emma Brownlie’s driven cross found Daina Bourma whose powerful low shot was pushed away by Logan.
Lisa Robertson free-kick was tipped wide for a Celtic corner, from which Fife pulled off a brilliant one-handed save to deny Hayes.
Soon it was in Celtic’s box again. Ness took the ball away from the scrambling Logan, knocked it back for Demi Vance whose thumping effort was deflected by Robertson.
As time ticked away you almost didn’t want a goal. Both sides deserved something from the game. But from a handball the referee had no option to point to the spot and Green put the ball high beyond the reach of Fife to give Celtic a late lead.
Still there were chances deep into stoppage time. Brianna Westrup stole the ball off Green as she eyed up a second goal on the edge of the area. The home side raced forward but a cross into the box was just too high for Arnot at the back post.
In the end a big win for Celtic, and one that reignites their title charge.
Rangers: Fife, Docherty, Brownlie, Vance, Hay (Bourma 67), Reilly, Ness, Arnot, Gemmell, Cornet (Bala Devi 76), Westrup; Cunningham, Girasoli, McQuillan, MacDonald
Celtic: Logan, Keenan (Bowie 66), Bartle, Ross, Robertson, Ewens (Anita 74), Donaldson (Nicolson 90), Clark, Green, Hayes, Warrington; McCulloch, Craig, Johnstone, McGovern